One of the questions I get most frequently, particularly from prospective garter snake buyers, is whether there is any difference between males and females. With garter snakes, though, there are a few differences; some of them may matter to you. First of all, garter snake females get much larger than males. A good rule of thumb for the most commonly kept species is that males reach a length of about two feet 60 cm , while females can reach around three feet 90 cm.
Snake sex is every bit as peculiar as you would expect
Sexual dimorphism in snakes: different reproductive roles favour different body plans
We used to assume that male snakes were in charge and females were largely passive, but that has proved to be spectacularly wrong. The anaconda's swollen body suggested she was full of food, so Rivas waited for her to throw up: snakes often vomit after a meal if they have over-eaten or are stressed, to make themselves lighter so they can flee. But instead of a typical prey, like a capybara, a reptilian tail started emerging from her mouth. The female anaconda had eaten one of her most recent sexual partners, a phenomenon known as sexual cannibalism. Her startling action is part of a growing body of evidence that we have misunderstood how snakes have sex. Previously, scientists had assumed that female snakes are submissive during courtship and mating, but it is now clear that they have a prominent role. He thinks that assumption stems from bias by early researchers, who were predominantly male.
Animal Sex: How Snakes Do It
With their sinuous bodies, sharp fangs and, sometimes, potent venom, snakes have long struck fear into the hearts of humans and our primate ancestors. But when it comes to mating, do these ancient reptiles also have a softer side? Though snakes garner much media and research attention, the reproductive strategies of many species are still shrouded in mystery. Unlike most other snakes, the mating behaviors of garter snakes have been extensively studied. When males catch the pheromone scent of a female, they will swarm over her, forming a "mating ball.
Because snakes have a highly simplified morphology, and many species have a wide and broadly overlapping range of adult body sizes within each sex, they offer an excellent opportunity to compare body composition of males and females. Evolutionary theory predicts that particular body components should be differentially enlarged in the two sexes. For example, we might expect the reproductive success of females to be enhanced by enlargement of organ systems involved in the processing and storage of energy e.